Eight ways to find cheap theatre tickets in London
Before we went travelling, we would go to the theatre at least once a week and we’ve slipped back into this habit pretty easily since moving back home. How? By finding cheap tickets.
Fortunately for the cash-strapped among us, it can be easy to grab yourself a bargain ticket to top play or musical. Here are eight ways to do just that.
Nº 1 - BOX OFFICE DAY SEATS
Many theatres offer fantastic deals on the day for tickets that afternoon or evening, but this normally involves a fair bit of queuing! Last year, I read on Twitter that people had queued from 7.30am for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time day seats. The Box Office opens at 10am and tickets were £15. The Theatre Monkey website has a great page of day seat details for current productions. It tells you the prices and numbers of tickets typically sold, and most importantly, when to start queuing!
Nº 2 - TKTS
In the heart of Leicester Square, opposite the Radisson Edwardian Hampshire Hotel, TKTS operates from 10-7 Monday to Saturday and 11-4.30 on Sundays. This the only official theatre booth and it has been running since 1980 after being set up by the Society of London Theatre. It is usually your cheapest option if you are buying tickets on the day from a Leicester Square booth. You can only buy your tickets in person, whether you are buying in advance or not. You typically save around £20 on a clear view stalls seat.
Nº 3 - LOTTERIES
The sensational satirical musical, The Book of Mormon, has hosted a ticket lottery for each performance for years. Now more shows, including Aladdin, have started running their own. With regards to BOM, two and a half hours before every performance, an enthusiastic employee of the Prince of Wales theatre appears to collect entries from people who wish to gain a front row ticket to the musical for only £20. You may only enter once but you can apply for a pair of tickets. You must remember your passport or driving license as proof of identity is required if you win, and tickets are purchased from the Box Office immediately after winners are drawn two hours before the performance is due to start. To sum up, your window of opportunity is from 12-12.30 for matinees and 5-5.30 for evening performances. And if you don’t win first time, just remember, tomorrow is a latter day!
Nº 4 - TODAYTIX
This App is relatively new on the scene but now offers many deals, ranging from discounts, day seats also known as 'rush' seats bookable on the day of performance, and ticket lotteries.
Nº 5 - Donmar's Young + Free and standing tickets
The Donmar Warehouse has an initiative that gives people 25 and under the chance to see shows - for free. These sell out quickly, so you have to be quick off the mark. They also offer cheap standing tickets, and as the theatre is so small, your view is bound to be good.
Nº 6 - NATIONAL THEATRE ENTRY PASS & OTHER CONCESSIONS
If you are aged 16-25, you should take advantage of the National Theatre's free membership scheme. You get £5 tickets to all NT productions and many other discounts, including the chance to bring a friend (who is also under 26) for £7.50.
When booking your tickets, whether it be online, on the phone or in person, always ask if there are any discount tickets available. At many venues there are, and the savings can be vast. The Almeida Theatre, for example, offers concessions prices for the over 60s, under 30s, Islington residents and students.
Nº 7 - PREVIEWS
If there is a show that you want to see opening soon, sign up for either the theatre’s and/or the show’s mailing list so you are the first to know when the booking period opens. Most productions offer reduced-price tickets for the first few weeks before Press Night, when the team are still making changes to the show. The overall production remains the same, but things such as lighting or characters’ lines may be altered slightly each night to decide between one option or another.
These tickets are commonly about £10 less than the usual price, so if you wanted a seat in the stalls that would cost £60 after Press Night, it will likely be £50 before. As a frequent buyer of preview tickets, I would advise you to buy them as close to the Press Night as possible.
The Old Vic also runs a scheme which sells around five days of preview performances for £10 a ticket. Sign up to their mailing list for details.
Nº 8 - KIDS WEEK
Having a young child/sibling/cousin/niece/nephew/etc… who likes the theatre (or is easy to drag along!) becomes invaluable during the summer. The Society of London Theatre has once again made theatre-going a cheaper experience for many, as during August any child under the age of 16 can go free to a variety of shows when accompanied by an adult paying full price. So if you have been dying to see Matilda the Musical, you can take a child with you at no cost, and avoid sitting in the theatre on your lonesome!
All details above are correct at August 2016.
Other things to consider
The above are the most reliable way to consistently get good value theatre tickets. Other ways to do this include joining a scheme such as My Box Office or the Audience Club which aims to fill seats in shows that are struggling to sell, usually for no more than £5. Also, check with your employer to see if they have any entertainment perks that may give you some money off.